Friday Roundup: Minimum wage, teacher evaluation, tech apprenticeships, regulation, college affordability and more

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Associated Press: Home health aides: Minimum-wage hike could deepen shortage

It’s a national problem advocates say could get worse in New York because of a phased-in, $15-an-hour minimum wage that will be statewide by 2021, pushing notoriously poorly paid health aides into other jobs, in retail or fast food, that don’t involve hours of training and the pressure of keeping someone else alive…

American Enterprise Institute: Teacher Dismissal in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has one of the most streamlined teacher eval- uation, promotion, and dismissal systems in the United States. Using a process originally implemented in 2009, called IMPACT, DCPS assigns teachers a numeric score based on multiple administrator obser- vations, student test scores, and teaching practices. If teachers do not meet a minimum score threshold, they are red at the end of the school year, and they have limited ability to contest the decision. On the other hand, high-performing teachers may receive bonuses and increases in base pay…

Although IMPACT makes headlines for its focus on student performance, the system provides teach- ers with a core focus on classroom practice and mul- tiple opportunities for feedback on their teaching. The stress of IMPACT evaluation has not noticeably reduced teacher retention in the district. Some stud- ies suggest that student performance has meaning- fully improved for some students as a result. Even critics of the program have credited IMPACT with driving DCPS to focus on student achievement, and it seems that students have come out ahead.

Seattle Times: New tech apprenticeship racks up 1,000 applicants, first two success stories

A new, federally funded apprenticeship program aimed at diversifying the tech workforce in Washington has drawn interest from more than 1,000 applicants in just a few months…

The program, called Apprenti, is being run by an industry trade association, the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA). It’s funded in part by a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as with private money. It does not cost participants anything.

WTIA says it is the first registered tech apprenticeship program in the nation. 

The Lens: Alleviating Small Business Regulatory Concerns

After a recent Washington State Auditor’s Office (SAO) performance audit determined state agencies are falling short when complying with the Regulatory Fairness Act (RFA), lawmakers are pushing legislation to fine tune the law to make sure small businesses aren’t disproportionately affected. At the end of last week, HB 1120received a public hearing for the first time in the Senate, after passing the House unanimously.

Seattle Times: Family and parental leave policies are new front for labor supporters

Efforts to craft a parental- and family-leave law are underway in the state Legislature, while Seattle City Councilmember M. Lorena González plans to introduce Wednesday a proposal for a leave law that would cover all employers within the city.

And, at least for the statewide legislative solution, there is support from some business groups.

“Passing something at the state level would be easier than having a patchwork of cities having their own paid-leave laws, which we’ve seen happen in the past on several issues,” said Stephanie McManus, a spokeswoman for the Washington Hospitality Association.

…The Association of Washington Business said it supports a legislative solution.

Puget Sound Business Journal: Proposed Washington state law blocks criminal history from job applications

A bill moving through the state Legislature in Olympia would prevent many Washington employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal record until the final stages of the hiring process.

The Washington Fair Chance Act, Senate Bill 5312, cleared the state Senate earlier this month and is scheduled for a vote in a House committee on Thursday.

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools: Kentucky Becomes 44th State to Allow Charter Public Schools 

Until Tuesday, Kentucky was one of only seven states that do not allow charter public schools. By enacting HB 520, the Bluegrass state will now allow these tuition-free public schools to open and begin providing students and their families with additional no-cost, high-quality school options.

The Atlantic: New Report Measures College (Un)affordability

But a new report shows that as many as 95 percent of colleges are completely unaffordable—and thus unavailable—for huge swaths of Americans. For many would-be college students, their choices are delimited by their socioeconomic status before they have even taken the SAT.

In a new report, the nonprofit Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) tackles those issues—and the numbers aren’t good: While students from the highest income quintile (earning around $160,000 or more) can afford about 90 percent of the more than 2,000 colleges studied, low- and moderate-income students (bringing in around $69,000 or less) can only afford 1 to 5 percent of those colleges.